Shopping for groceries online was a growing trend even before the coronavirus hit. According to a study conducted by the data research site Statista, the amount spent on online grocery orders in the U.S. was expected to soar from $14.2 billion in 2017 to $29.7 billion by 2021. And that number was on track to reach almost $60 billion by 2023, according to one study of online U.S. grocery shopping statistics and trends.
Today, it seems reasonable to assume that those estimates might actually be too low. Needless to say, concerns about in-person grocery shopping in the face of the pandemic have only increased demand for delivery. For instance, sales for the major provider in the field, Instacart, more than doubled just between February and March this year.
For convenience as well as safety, getting bags or boxes of food and household necessities brought to your doorstep is obviously an increasingly attractive option. But how should you handle these items once they’ve arrived?
Most experts agree that there is little risk of coronavirus transmission through food or its packaging, and point out that high-touch surfaces in grocery stores — like shopping carts and baskets — are potentially more dangerous. Thus, avoiding those by ordering from home cuts your risk considerably. Also worth knowing are these 16 tips to prevent coronavirus and other viral infections.
On the other hand, as California food safety expert Jeff Nelken recently told the New York Times, “[I]t’s safe to assume that if a piece of produce has been out [at the market], it’s been handled by at least 10 people” — and the same is likely to be true of that jar of peanut butter or that box of cereal. So why take a chance, whether you buy your groceries from the neighborhood minimart or from one of the best grocery store chains in every state?
If you want to be extra-safe (and who doesn’t?), cleaning the contents of those home-delivered bags and boxes is probably a good idea. Even people who are already doing this, however, sometimes make rookie mistakes along the way.
While some of the measures recommended here might seem excessive, they’re worth considering if you want to be extra-careful — especially if you’re particularly vulnerable because of age or a medical condition.